On The Turning Away

What scares you?
What do you hate?
What makes you wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night?
What's the stuff your nightmares are made of?
Our nightmares are greater than the sum of their parts. What's more, the parts have changed with time, with stimuli, with circumstances ... with ideas. The only thing that's constant is change, right? I was exposed to a rude reminder of this when talking to a couple of gentlemen from the generation preceding mine. Their ideas and mine didn't quite meet, in fact they clashed in manners similar to soldiers armed with words ... strong words. I chalked it up to the all engulfing generation gap. Fuming at how racism had corrupted people whose opinions I respect in most things, I didn't see what was staring me in the face - their experiences are different from mine. Their prejudices are different from mine.
I didn't live through two wars with neighbouring countries. I didn't huddle up in a small room in the middle of the night when the air raid siren went off. I didn't see a man being shot because he lit a cigarette at night. I didn't live through an emergency declared by a dictatorial prime minister. I didn't see the man with smoldering eyes running around with a sickle in his hand hacking up people. I didn't see riots on the street when a dictatorial politician was assassinated. I didn't see blood flowing in the drains next to my house.
Experiences, sights ... waking nightmares like these have caused them to wear scarlet coloured glasses, to see everything as though through the haze of a war, to react to everything in the most common way they were reacted to, with violence, with hatred, with a strange mix of tolerance and racism that I don't quite get. Love the individuals that you know but hate the race that they belong to. Hate the millions of faceless people who belong to it. 'As long as I don't know them, I hate them.'
What I've seen for most of my life is peace, uncertain and shaky, but peace nonetheless. There are a few times it was threatened. Spiced up and exploited by the media, its splashed across every magazine and TV screen in the world. Images, horrifying and inspiring ... words, to inform and subvert. Information.
This brings me to the topic of the conversation I was referring to earlier. Hatred, racism, bigotry and whatever else fits under that umbrella - how its being spread through the education system. I know what most people reading this are going to say now. 'There are so many Islamic schools that teach the Koran'. You're absolutely right. There are thousands, many of them teaching a somewhat misguided view of it. But that's not the whole truth.
What follows is a quote from the Old Testament, the book on which Judaism, Christianity and Islam are based

If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God. . . .(Deuteronomy 13:7–11)

This is taught in Sunday school and most of the Christian institutions. A "God" asking the people that follow him to kill other people. The same "God" that said "Thou shalt not kill."
One might think this is the end of it. This point illustrates that the interpretation of words, of information can kill the meaning behind it. We already know, courtesy of the media, that there are militant camps that are promoting a somewhat skewed interpretation of scripture.
Here's something you don't know. There are schools like this right under your nose! I'm not just talking about those that I've mentioned above. The Hindutva brigade started schools soon after Indian independence that promotes their own brand of "Hindu" values.
Here's the militant school that you don't know about.
These are the "facts" that children in these schools are taught -

  • Homer adapted Valmiki’s Ramayana into an epic called Iliad

  • The language of the Native American Indians evolved from ancient Indian languages

  • a map of India which includes not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and even parts of Myanmar.

If anybody's read the Iliad and has even a brief idea of what the Ramayana is about the first point should be enough to convince you.
The second would kill any cultural anthropologist, either because he had a heart attack while laughing or because of a brain aneurysm he developed trying to figure out how this could be true. We can't even begin to decipher the ancient Indian languages from the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation. I'm guessing that making tall claims is first lesson in hypocrisy, something that the Hindutva brigade is more than comfortable with.
The third is just plain bloody wrong. Any person who passed geography would know that (including me).
The Hindutva brigade shames any "True Hindu" (read this) but this is insulting the intelligence of the entire human race.
These schools are a breeding ground for automatons that take orders, that can't think for themselves, that are taught, no, not taught, force fed lies. How is this any different from the militant cells set up in Islamic countries? How is this any different from that basis of the Inquisition?
This was the topic of conversation that I was referring to earlier. Education is about facts. Its about learning. Its about preparing a child for the life that he/she has to face.
This is about creating an army.
This is the point that the two gentlemen and I disagreed on. They believe that an army is required. I don't. You can't fight a forest fire by starting another forest fire. There'll be nothing left to burn.
This is the stuff my nightmares are made of. This is what keeps me awake at night. The next generation will be a silent people, unable to think for themselves, harbouring a skewed sense of morality fueled and led by a nameless faceless fascist ass dressed in saffron robes or a white caftan or a black suit.
I don't know what to do about it. I just know that if enough people know about it, it might stop. Information, unadulterated, is power. It allows you make a decision on how things should be. It puts the future in your hands. I only hope that its not my nightmare.
If what we sow is what we reap, then we're in deep shit.
We're sowing the fields with bullets.
We're soaking the fields in blood.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

very informative i must say!
loved it...:-)
hope u keep more of it coming...:-)

El Furibundo said...

What about those among us who do wear scarlet sunglasses?

Ramya said...

I loved the ending..and i completely agree with you...ive read a bunch of stuff like this before...about the completely twisted views people assume to be true...
very nicely written....wow...

Stargazer said...

@Anonymous - :-) Thank you

@Furibundo - I'm hoping they'll take it off. It's easier to have people with you. If enough people see the light (please excuse the terrible pun) then maybe we have a chance. Those who don't might just have to be dragged along.

@Ramya - All too many twisted views. :-)
Glad you liked it.